Winning titles has become a common occurrence for the Lady Pioneers under coach Gooby Martin. District titles, tournament championships, even a region title – Warren County has all those on its resume now. The only thing missing is a state tournament appearance.
The Lady Pioneers will get a chance to remedy that Friday night.
Warren County will face off with the Stewarts Creek Redhawks Friday in the TSSAA sectionals, pitting a pair of champions against each other in a fight to see who stays alive in the postseason. The winner will advance to the state tournament, set to be held May 24-27 at Murfreesboro Sports Complex.
The Redhawks are fresh off a Region 4-4A championship Wednesday, where the 28-win group rallied from an early 3-0 hole to beat Smyrna 7-5. Stewarts Creek was also the regular-season champs in District 8-4A, though the team lost to the Bulldogs in the district tournament championship.
Warren County will be traveling due to its 6-2 loss to Coffee County in the Region 3-4A championship at home. The Lady Pioneers, owners of 18 wins, are just a week removed from winning a district tournament title and will be playing in their second sectional game in program history. Warren County lost to Siegel 14-0 in 2019 in sectionals, ending one the program’s most successful years ever.
The Lady Pioneers will have a pair of players take the field Friday who can still remember the pressure of performing at this level. Pitcher Madison Hollis and catcher Shelby Roberts each played against Siegel as freshmen three years ago. They’ll be counted on to give Warren County a huge boost Friday, something they’ve been doing for years.
Hollis is the team’s undisputed leader and lynchpin in the circle. The senior, who is committed to play at Bates College in Maine next year, has nine postseason wins under her belt, including four this year. Hollis (14-7) sports a 1.23 ERA entering the matchup with the Redhawks and has 101 strikeouts this year. Hollis’ pinpoint accuracy has been on display in the postseason as she’s issued just two walks in 35 innings.
Roberts, the District 6-4A Offensive MVP, will be looking to regain her mojo at the plate against Stewarts Creek. The senior had hits in 14 of her last 15 games coming into this week, but went 0-for-7 in region matchups against Rhea County and Coffee County. Roberts had some bad luck on hard-hit balls in each games and remains a table setter for the Lady Pioneer offense from the lead-off position.
Warren County will also be hoping Alyssa Mosley (.348 overall, .545 in postseason) and Callie Roberts (.296 this season, .357 in postseason) stay hot at the right time. Mosley and Callie were held hitless in Wednesday’s loss (combined 0-for-6) before carrying the Lady Pioneer offense in the middle of the order in four previous postseason wins.
Seniors Marli McBride (LF) and Aleya Esparza (2B) picked up hits in the region championship, a good sign for the Lady Pioneer offense.
It remains to be seen who coach Martin will fill out the rest of his order. Ky Damon should be back in her usual spot in centerfield, while Jessie Young will be counted on defensively at third base. Coach Martin gave freshman Addison Smith her first start at first base Wednesday, while Kora Forbes picked up a hit as a pinch hitter in the seventh.
Dallis Melton remains the team’s go-to right fielder, while Jaz Ward (courtesy runner, pinch hitter) rounds out the Lady Pioneers most likely to see game action in sectionals.
On the other side, the Lady Pioneers will see a pair of MVPs. Reese Vivrette was named the District 8-4A MVP after hitting over .600 this year as the team’s lead-off hitter, while hurler Grace Fujino was the district’s Pitcher of the Year.
Vivrette had a big RBI double in the seventh to help the Redhawks down the Bulldogs in the final inning of the region championship. Fujino picked up the win, going the distance while scattering six hits and walking eight.
Brooke Ramsey, Stewarts Creek’s clean-up hitter, had two hits Wednesday. She’s hitting over .500 for the year for the Redhawks, who had a stretch in the last month where they put up 26 runs against Antoich, 22 and 24 runs against LaVergne and beat Cane Ridge 23-0 and 15-0 on the same day.
The program has at least three players going to the next level. Vivrette has committed with Lincoln Memorial, while Fajino is pledged to Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh) and Ramsey has signed with Alabama State. Shortstop Hannah Grace McMeen will also be a player to watch for the Lady Pioneers – she has a strong arm and packs some pop in the heart of the order.
Friday will be the second time the teams have faced off, with the first matchup coming early last year. The Lady Pioneers beat Stewarts Creek 6-4 in the Commando Classic, with Hollis homering off Fujino late in the four-inning exhibition. Shelby Roberts was 2-for-2 with two RBIs in last year’s matchup as well.
While the teams haven’t seen each other again since that early March matchup in 2021, they do share a few common opponents this year. The Redhawks split with Rockvale this year in two matchups and beat Riverdale 6-2. Warren County is 3-0 against Rutherford County teams this year, including victories over Riverdale (8-7 in a tourney game that Hollis got a rest) and Rockvale (3-2 in the regular season finale).
(Lineup used in most recent game)
Warren County Lady Pioneers (18-8)
Senior Shelby Roberts, Catcher
Junior Alyssa Mosley, Shortstop
Senior Madison Hollis, Pitcher
Senior Marli McBride, Left Field
Freshman Callie Roberts, DH
Senior Aleya Esparza, Second Base
Freshman Addison Smith, First Base
Junior Jessie Young, Third Base
Freshman Ky Damon, Centerfield
Junior Dallis Melton, Flex/RF
Stewarts Creek RedHawks (28-12-1)
Senior Reese Vivrette, Second Base
Sophomore Tenayja Thomas, Centerfield
Junior Hannah McMeen, Shortstop
Senior Brooke Ramsey, Catcher
Senior Kadin Shattles, First Base
Senior Emily Pfluger, Right Field
Senior Emilie Bryan, Left Field
Senior Kenzie Ramsey, DH
Senior Hannah Foster, 3B
Senior Grace Fujino, Flex/Pitcher